What Do You Have To Say

September 1, 2008



By Julia M. Johnson

Missouri Meetings & Events is always on the prowl for ways to make its content more useful and enjoyable, so the magazine invited several St. Louis-based meeting planners in May 2008 to solicit their ideas for future issues.

Seated in comfortable banquet space at Favazza’s Restaurant in southwest St. Louis city, the planners enjoyed Italian appetizers and sounded off about their suggestions for the magazine, its Web site and its trade expos. The attendees represented corporate, religious, educational and wedding planning organizations. Most said they routinely plan functions of 100 guests or more.

Planners said they would most like to see feature articles on hot topics that are uppermost in the news, including environmental responsibility, the movement toward paperless documentation, air travel trends and how rising fuel costs are impacting the travel and transportation industry. They said they would like to see interviews with forward-thinking local experts in these areas, to help them spot coming trends from the east and west coasts and be prepared for them.

Some planners said they would welcome stories on safety concerns and emergency preparedness at meetings and conferences, as well as insurance issues related to event emergencies. Others asked for features focusing on small meetings with small budgets, with advice on how organizers of these events can get the most for the dollars they spend with venues and vendors.

One attendee suggested a story on experienced planners, the top five mistakes or obstacles they have overcome in their careers, and what they learned from those situations. Other suggestions included stories on health and practical matters – how to pack efficiently and “wrinkle-free” for a business trip, how to “eat smart” while on the road, and exercises travelers can do in their hotel rooms.

When asked for their opinions about MM&E and its Kansas City and St. Louis expos, planners had plenty of feedback to share. One planner rated MM&E’s expos a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, citing her enjoyment of their relaxed atmosphere and entertaining interactive activities such as musicians, magicians and hypnotists. Another planner suggested adding a social networking site to www.MissouriMeetingsAndEvents.com, to help planners and allied companies connect with each other.

One planner doing a great deal of wedding business said she especially enjoys the Rob’s Rules column by Rob Schaefer because it is often pertinent to her niche. Another said she values and saves all her print copies of the magazine because it’s a good reference tool when she is unable to attend MM&E’s expos and educational functions.

The forum group was asked which segments of the magazine they flip to first upon receiving it. Some said they usually gravitate toward the shorter, more visually graphic articles because they are “quick hits” of information and often easiest to read. Others said they skim the magazine first to see what’s most interesting to them, then go back and read certain articles in greater depth. Still others said they turn to Faces & Places first, while most noted that they always eventually read the publication from beginning to end.

Pat Schaumann, vice president for Kuoni Events USA in St. Louis, noted that MM&E is used as a learning tool in many Missouri universities’ hospitality education programs. She suggested that the magazine explore what these schools are doing to further the meeting and event industry – what courses and degrees are they offering, and what specialized certifications are being developed?

Brief surveys collected from forum attendees showed that they also want to see more Destination Spotlight coverage on restaurants that can handle large groups; hotels with function space; and venues that welcome small meetings.

For future Facility Focus articles, they rated accommodation options, capacity of meeting spaces and catering options as their most important concerns; and in the Meet Over Eats department, they asked for more coverage of cuisine options.

Survey respondents said they found the magazine’s design to be modern and graphically interesting; in fact, all of the forum attendees rated it “above average” or “superior,” and the majority said they would purchase the publication if they saw it on a newsstand. Attendees also said they found MM&E’s Web site to be modern, colorful and graphically interesting.

Missouri Meetings & Events recognizes that what’s good for the planner is good for the magazine, so we remain committed to hearing readers’ feedback, suggestions and criticisms. Stay tuned as MM&E puts your ideas to work in the coming months!

Planners interested in attending future quarterly Missouri Meetings & Events discussion forums can contact Vikki Matthews at [email protected]. To make suggestions for future story ideas, contact Patti Curran, [email protected].

The staff of Missouri Meetings & Events would like to extend a special thank you to John Favazza and Quentin Dunk for their hospitality. John and Quentin offered planners a tour of Favazza’s meeting facilities as well as delicious, complimentary fare. If you would like more information on hosting your next event at Favazza’s, visit www.Favazzas.com or call (314) 772-4454.



About the author

The MEET® Family of Publications

The MEET® Family of Publications produces regional and national publications that keep corporate, association, medical, education, independent, and religious meeting and event planners informed about relevant industry suppliers, news, tech innovations, and resources that impact and influence how and where they plan their upcoming company function(s).